No room for aus­ter­ity in NHS

Kentish Gazette Canterbury & District - - Letters And Opinion -

Last Satur­day I and tens of thou­sands of other peo­ple marched in Lon­don to de­fend our NHS; to save our NHS from the grip of the aus­ter­ity which has led it to hav­ing the worst win­ter on record. Our de­mands were for emer­gency fund­ing now and full fund­ing for the fu­ture and an end to the point­less pri­vati­sa­tion and frag­men­ta­tion of ser­vices. Not just in Lon­don, but here too out­side the Kent and Can­ter­bury Hos­pi­tal, lo­cal peo­ple demon­strated mak­ing the same de­mands. I’m told that many of the cars, taxis and hos­pi­tal ve­hi­cles pass­ing by hooted their sup­port. A huge pro­por­tion of the pedes­tri­ans walk­ing by stopped to show their back­ing too. It’s clear that the pub­lic want a rad­i­cal change of di­rec­tion for the NHS, and that we need a gov­ern­ment com­mit­ted to de­liver it. On the Lon­don march I joined my friend, Jonathan Ash­worth, the shadow Sec­re­tary of State for Health. We talked about the poli­cies that we need na­tion­ally and the prob­lems here in east Kent, which Jonathan knows well as I keep him reg­u­larly up­dated. I am cer­tain that in gov­ern­ment he will lead the rad­i­cal change we all need so much. The day be­fore the “NHS fix it now” march, Kent and Med­way NHS and So­cial Care Part­ner­ship Trust launched its stroke ser­vices con­sul­ta­tion. This is part of its so-called “Sus­tain­abil­ity and Trans­for­ma­tion Plan” (STP), which in truth is a plan to shave even more money from the lo­cal NHS bud­get. I urge you all to read the pro­pos­als for stroke ser­vices, to at­tend con­sul­ta­tion meet­ings and to send your in­di­vid­ual com­ments to the trust. You can find the de­tails about the con­sul­ta­tion at this web­site: https://ken­tandmed­way.nhs. uk/stroke/. The lo­cal health cam­paign group Chek also has a pe­ti­tion to re­in­state K&C ser­vices at http://www. savetheken­tand­can­ter­ pe­ti­tion. As I ex­pect you know, stroke ser­vices have al­ready been re­moved from the Kent and Can­ter­bury Hos­pi­tal. What wor­ries me is that man­agers now pro­pose only one stroke ser­vice for the whole of east Kent, based at the William Har­vey Hos­pi­tal in Ash­ford. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not op­posed to cen­tral­is­ing spe­cialised ser­vices where there is a clearly proven clin­i­cal case. I am op­posed, how­ever, when what is driv­ing that de­ci­sion is a fund­ing short­fall. We need to be clear that’s not what’s go­ing on with our lo­cal hos­pi­tal ser­vices. Speed of ad­mis­sion to a stroke spe­cial­ist unit is essen­tial for the best care and out­comes. How­ever, many peo­ple will worry about the travel times from Thanet, the most de­prived part of Kent, to the William Har­vey, or from Whit­stable, Herne Bay or Up­street. Fig­ures I re­ceived on am­bu­lance re­sponse times add to my con­cern. It only takes a two-hour re­sponse time in a cou­ple of cases in ar­eas fur­ther from Ash­ford to get us into dan­ger­ous ter­ri­tory. That hap­pened last win­ter, and I have yet to be told what is hap­pen­ing this win­ter, though I fear the worst. You don’t have to demon­strate to play your part. Please read the con­sul­ta­tion and let’s get thou­sands of peo­ple from Can­ter­bury, Whit­stable and the vil­lages, and from the whole of east Kent, telling the trust what we the peo­ple want – an end to STPS and a fully-funded NHS that works for every­one.

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